Cobweb Collagraph

Cobweb collagraph plateI really enjoyed the Collagraph printing, but it took me ages to start to ink the plate (above) because it was so beautiful in its own right and I didn’t want to spoil it!

I’m really pleased with the prints though.

Cobweb Collagraph PrintsThese are based on drawings I did of cobwebs covering part of a windowsill in the attic at Islington Mill. I usually draw on sheets of A2 paper so I can really expand on tiny detail. So the image below is actually A2 in size, with magnified detail of the inspiration for the print.

Islington Mill CobwebsIslington Mill Cobwebs (detail)One of the things I’ve started to enjoy about blogging is how all images become equal because however large or tiny they started out they are reduced to pretty much the same dimensions.

There’s some really good instructions for Intaglio collagraph printing on Bill Chambers website

Additional web storage

Web storageOne of the things I enjoy about blogging is the connections I make in my head while I am writing and sorting through pictures. While writing my last post, I linked the images and Ideas I am having now with a college project from 2008 on the theme of “architexture” inspired by our collapsing shed.  Part of that involved standing on steps and photographing and drawing the holes in the shed roof which provided a surprising source of inspiration. The detrius collected in the holes that the the spider’s webs protected proved particularly inspiring..

Here’s my sketchbook drawing of the above photo using mostly metallic pens.

SketchbookThis little web was the start of my fascination with the things we hold on to and of making art to protect them.

The outcome of this project was my “discomfort blanket” pictured below sunbathing on the roof of the shed, just after the asphalt had blown off in a gale!

Discomfort BlanketLooking back has been a worthwhile exercise, showing how far my work has progressed practically, but also realising that it is beginning to have more depth.

Out of focus cobwebs

Out of focus cobweb print 001 I have this fantastic device on my camera: an auto setting that slips really easily, so I’m constantly taking out of focus images!  The above trace monoprint was inspired by an out of focus image I took of the cobwebs around a window in the attic at Islington Mill. Here’s the original.

Out of focus cobwebThe artist Paul Klee used trace monoprinting in his famous piece Twittering machine (1922).

I have a thing about cobwebs, the way they attract detritus (like me!) so I think I might show you some previous cobweb inspiration in my next post…

In the attic: a place to reflect.

I’ve not written a post since December, and I hadn’t quite realised it was so long until I came to write this one. There’s been a lot happening and I’ve been re-evaluating what I’m doing and where I’m going.  Since Christmas I’ve been working on a really interesting project involving glass plate negatives from the 1950’s which I can’t tell you a lot about until it goes live, probably some time next year. Suffice to say it’s given me a little bit of stability income wise, so I’ve made the decision to use the remainder of the time to try and move my own artwork on. It’s still very much a continuation of what I did at college and still very much in my comfort zone.

DSCF6282To this end I’ve been working in the beautiful space that is the attic at Islington Mill.  I’ve made some connections over the last year at the mill, and thought the attic would make an interesting place to work. All that peeling paint and eroded wood and all those items, artworks and memories hidden away, waiting to be cared for fits very much into the way I have been working.  Bumping into Bill and Maurice – the directors – in a coffee shop, I took the plunge and asked if it would be ok  for me to do some drawing up there,”Yes” they said “why not make it a residency?”… Gulp…

It’s so true that if you don’t ask you don’t give people permission to say yes! I’m sure I read that in a book called “Unconditional Leadership” by David Robinson but I can’t find the quote without reading the whole book again!  It’s a fab book, so I’m happy to recommend it anyway

So I’ve been working in the attic since January on what I’ve been calling my “secret residency”.  All alone in that vast space, a fantastic time for reflection. I had hoped to create an installation up there, but having had the most horrendous flu in February and taking a while to get my stride back, this is no longer possible due to renovation work planned up there.  So I’m going to be doing an installation in their gallery at the end of July instead.

In parallel to this I enrolled on a year long printmaking course at Hot Bed Press, and have been using my mill drawings and inspirations as the basis for prints. I can see that eventually my prints will become inspirations for my textiles and my textiles will become inspirations for my prints.pool of colour

Looking at all the stuff I now have in my folder and having just read “Show your work” by Austin Kleon, I thought I’d put it all online through the blog. Firstly because I’ve found it really helpful to have things on the blog for me to look back on, either nostalgically or because it helps ideas to click, and secondly because I would be interested in other people’s thoughts.

So for those lovely people who follow the blog, be aware that I will be making quite a few posts over the next couple of weeks, but I am intending them to be mainly visual with only a little bit of text.cobwebs in corners

Salford Over Fifty Art Group

Salford Over Fufty Art groupI’ve spent the last six fridays working with the Salford Over Fifty Art Group and what a great bunch of ladies they are! In week one I introduced them to the idea of drawing to create pattern and in week two we used images by Paul Klee and some Contemporary Indigenous Art from Australia for inspiration. Using Inspiration from both sessions the ladies created the designs above and then embroidered into them using simple embroidery techniques. They were so pleased with the results and so was I. It was so lovely to get people inspired to embroider.  They have asked me back next year so they must have enjoyed themselves.

Lucy the Tudor meets Nana Knitwit!

Lucy the Tudor and Nana KnitwitI spent Sunday afternoon at Ordsall Hall for the Ordsall Ball of Wool in the guise of Nana Knitwit, making pom poms with various children and adults.  This is one of the highlights of my year because it is such a simple thing to make pom poms, but so many children have never made one before and they just love it!

This year I deliberately got there to set up a little earlier than necessary so I could say “Hi” to Lucy the Tudor.  She is the most knowlegeable person I have ever met about the history of textiles, and it is an absolute pleasure to see her stall and demonstrations.  If you are interested in the history of textiles do take a look at her Facebook page and try and get to see her at an event.

Lucy the Tudor and Nana Knitwit
Spot the difference!!!

Expressive Print

Traced Monoprint I’ve started a short four evening course at Hot Bed Press in Salford called Expressive Print. I’ve dabbled in print a couple of times in the past including a short course at The Lowry printing on paper and workshops with Dionne Swift printing on fabric and I’ve started to dabble in lino print.  Here are some of the mono prints I made in week one under the tutelage of Martin Kochany.plate wipe-monoprintpainterly monoprint

Heritage Hearts and Doves

Hearts and DovesFor heritage weekend last month I was involved with two lovely organisations in Salford to create work for a project celebratings weddings from around the world at St.Clement’s Church in Ordsall, Salford as part of their Heritage Weekend Open Event.

The event was organiseDSCF5Doves910d by the Celebrating Diversity Group and involved groups with different heritages working together to create a celebration of weddings from their various cultures.  I worked with Women in Stitches, based at St.Clement’s Church. Using the theme of love we created lots of small padded hearts and doves to decorate the church with and also the centrepiece of the event which was the four giant hearts and two giant doves shown above and right.Heritage Parade

I also worked with Ordsall Community Arts who were commissioned to make willow structures to carry in a parade that was to take place around the event. We decided to create a giant globe in four parts making the continents from wedding fabrics and colours from around the world. I made the crazy patchwork continents and Marie and Nargeesa, two other artists Crazy Patchwork Globeinvolved in the project created the globe.

When we put the globe in situ in the church it looked amazing below the doves and it felt really significant. With all the unhappy and horrible events we are seeing on the news at the moment it was a real a celebration of peace and all that connects us in the world.

Basque Children in Salford – Update 3

Spanish Children at Harold's Memorial Orphanage HomeEarlier this year I met Manchester-based writer Natalie Bradbury at an event at Islington Mill. Natalie has a blog called the Shrieking Violet and also creates a zine of the same name.  Natalie is interested in preserving lost stories and history and asked me if I would write an article for her zine.  This has now been published. Paper Copies are on sale in Piccadilly Records and Cornerhouse bookshop, Manchester, costing £2 or you can download a copy here or you can read it on line. My article is on pages 3-6.

I’ve now worked my way through old copies of the Salford Reporter so the next step is to find out what happened to the children who went to Eccles and to start to research the people involved in fundraising and supporting them.

To see previous posts on the Basque Children in Salford click here

Installation at Ordsall Hall

Art in the AtticFinally installed my machine knitted and embroidered piece into the attic at Ordsall Hall today. It’s taken a while to make with all that dyeing of yarn and a misbehaving knitting machine. It’s not the machine’s fault, it has just been too humid this month to work with wool, so it’s been a bit of a battle to keep it on the machine. Despite these difficulties, it was a joy to see it in situ and looking even better than I’d hoped.

The theme of the project was commemoration, linking in to events commemorating the start of First World War and with the bigger Poppies Project that starts with The Big Poppy Picnic at Ordsall Hall this weekend.  My intention was to create a comfort blanket to suggest warmth, memory, attachment, care and repair and the passing of time to add warmth and homeliness to the housekeeper’s attic.

The design of the blanket developed from images of the textures found in the hall.Textures of Ordsall HallI’ve gathered lots of stories about how people commemorate events, family and friends, and particularly the objects they use to commemorate them. The felted tiles include stories of an ice cream bowl that reminds someone of Wilfred Owen, a missing propeller, and a collection of unwanted shells. One lady brought in the postcard her mother posted on holiday from Scotland the day before she died unexpectedly and which arrived the day after, and a gentleman brought in his grandfather’s WWI sergeant’s fitness manual. There’s a sadly missed cat, and clogs that a lady’s dad made for her. I’ve included my Granddad’s WWI Medals. There’s Margaret Radclyffe – aka The White Lady (see Ghost Cam).– and her twin brother, Alexander, as children playing and lots of images from the patterns in the hall.

Story TilesThe middle panel was made by members of the public using my simple knitting machine, The Knitmaster (now Silver Read) LK 150 Option 4 in the Frederic Shields gallery. This was to represent the wattle and daub that is integral to the structure of the hall.  We created loops to thread twigs through as shown above. Using the knitting machine in public triggered many memories of the 1970s, as people recalled their mothers and grandmothers making jumpers and scarves for them. Many older people remembered with fondness what they made and who they made it for, with many regretting that they gave the machine away!